Moore says Westmont will only become stronger

It’s optimism and determination from people like John Moore that will help the Westmont community rally back from the devastation caused by last week’s Tea Fire.

“Out of the ashes rise the Warriors, and the Warriors are going to be better than ever before,” said the basketball coach.

In all, 14 Westmont faculty homes were lost and a handful of buildings on the campus were destroyed Thursday night. Among those who lost their homes were Athletic Director and soccer coach Dave Wolf, tennis coach Kathy LeSage and track coach Russell Smelley.

The faith shared by those in the Westmont community is perhaps the most valued resource in this tough time, and Moore led the Ranchero Room in a brief prayer before Monday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table luncheon at Harry’s Plaza Cafe.

“We pray for those who have lost homes, we pray for those who have been injured and we pray for our city. And we are grateful to the firefighters, police officers and all the others who were able to save homes and save lives,” said Moore.

The men’s basketball team was on the road during the fire, and picked up two wins while thinking of home. Moore said that not being able to be there with his family was one of the hardest things he’s ever had to do, but that he has never been as proud of a team as he was during the two victories.

—SBCC FOOTBALL: Craig Moropoulos spent Thursday night and Friday morning up on Stanwood Drive, using a garden hose to help save a friend’s house as nearby properties burned. He won that battle, and his team won another battle on Saturday when the Vaqueros traveled through the smoke to East L.A. and picked up their sixth consecutive win after an 0-4 start. It earned SBCC a co-championship in the American Pacific Conference.

“I’m proud of the kids for fighting all year long. When you’re 0-4, it’s tough just to practice, let alone play in the games,” said the coach.

The magnificent run to close the season, however, was not enough to earn the Vaqueros a bowl bid. Pasadena and Southwestern square off in the inaugural Tremblay Financial Services Bowl at La Playa Stadium Saturday.

—CARPINTERIA FOOTBALL: The Warriors will be moving on into the postseason after finishing third in the Tri-Valley League and will play Verbum Dei at Compton Centennial High School on Friday night.

“We’re thrilled to be in the playoffs,” said coach John Hazelton, whose team at one point this year went a month without a win.

“A month ago we were left for dead I think.”

Hazelton introduced Noah Bryant, a 2002 Carp graduate who was a state champion in the shot put before going on to win the NCAA Indoor and Outdoor national titles at USC.

Along with Bryant and Hazelton were other Warriors whom Hazelton described as “the reason we’re continuing and the reason our spirits are so high.”

That group consisted of Jeff Morehouse, assistant coach Mike Carey, trainer and defensive coach Dr. Jay Kalisek, Grant “Mini Beast” Coleman, Justin Alvarado, Ivan Milhollin and Garrett Gonzales.

Hazelton also announced that this season would be his last at the helm after six seasons as head coach. He thanked the Round Table for hosting the luncheons, which Hazelton has brought over 180 Carpinteria athletes to.

“I am announcing this as we go into the CIF playoffs to draw the attention of our staff and players to ‘the moment,'” he wrote in a statement. “I want our focus to be on each other, and to recognize as a group that these are our last opportunities to be together, and to make the most of each ‘moment’.

“I am 100% positive that our kids, my staff and I will compete with a lot of heart, emotion and courage just like every week — and maybe just a tiny bit more. The whole thing for me is a positive, and I would appreciate that approach by all.”

Other football teams headed into CIF are Santa Barbara and Cate. The Dons will play at Thousand Oaks on Friday night while Cate — which overcame a 28-0 deficit to beat Victor Valley Chrsitian 42-41 on Saturday — will take on Windward at a time and place to be determined.

—UCSB WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: While Hazelton announced he would be saying goodbye, Lindsay Gottlieb was saying hello to the crowd at Harry’s.

“This is a really neat event… One of the reasons I chose to come here was because of the community, and I’ve just been overwhelmed by the amount of support I’ve received from the UCSB athletic department,” said the new Gaucho hoops coach.

Gottlieb also confessed to being “a sports nerd,” and has enjoyed following local prep sports as well during her acclimation to Santa Barbara.

Her team won its first game of the season Sunday, downing a tough USD team thanks to 27 points from Lauren Pederson.

“I would be lying to say the butterflies didn’t amp up a little bit,” she said.

The young coach brought along a pair of her young standouts — sophomore power forward Ashlee Brown and freshman point guard Emilie Johnson.

While she referred to the two youngsters as the future of her program, there are plenty of old-timers on the court — the five Gaucho seniors have a combined age of 114.

— UCSB MEN’S BASKETBALL: Assistant coach Jono Metzger-Jones came to talk about the men’s side of the Gaucho hoops spectrum. He said that this year’s team boasts the strongest freshman recruiting class coach Bob Williams has had in a decade with the program.

The Gauchos will have their hands full on Friday, when the nation’s No. 1, North Carolina, brings their seven potential first-round draft picks to the Thunderdome in a sellout.

— SAN MARCOS BOYS BASKETBALL: Like the Gauchos, Royals coach Jarrod Bradley also has plenty of new faces in his program, as he has only three returners back from last year’s squad.

But he’s still confident about the upcoming season, particularly because of the trio of sturdy young players he brought. Six-foot-5 forward Josh Guila, a transfer from Sacramento, has put on 15 pounds through workouts in the last couple of months, and Riley Johnson has proven to be the team’s sharpshooter. Chris Vines will take over at point guard this year in what should be an excellent Channel League.

—LAGUNA BLANCA GIRLS VOLLEYBALL: Jim Alzina has been a new face to Laguna Blanca as a rookie coach this year, but the same can’t be said for most of his players. Nine of them were on last year’s CIF finalist team, and seniors Katie Borden and Monica Beltran have been to the championship match every year of their high school careers.

The Owls will need to get past defending champion Calvary Murrieta on Tuesday to make their fourth consecutive final.

Alzina introduced three-year varsity player and libero Jen Murphy as well as female Athlete of the Week honoree Jackie Harvey.

Harvey was key in the Owls’ most recent victory over Arrowhead Christian, finishing with five aces and 14 kills. After Laguna lost the first set, she stepped to the service line for eight straight points to bring the momentum over to the Owls’  side. Although the first thing many notice about Harvey is that she crushes the ball, Alzina saud what’s impressed him most is her passing.

— SANTA BARBARA WATER POLO: Coach Mark Walsh stepped to the podium to discuss his upcoming girls season as well as the current boys campaign, which is still going after what he called “one of the best wins in school history”.

Some of the players were forced to evacuate during Thursday’s fire, but the team went down to face Newport Harbor in the Division-I quarterfinals and pulled off a 3-2 sudden-death win.

Brendan Kerwin-McElroy scored two of the Dons’ goals, including the game-winner on what Walsh said was probably the worst shot Santa Barbara took all day. It was an intensely physical game which left both teams exhausted.

“I felt like it was a CIF championship just because they had worked so hard,” said Walsh.

Goalie Hunter Ploch had an outstanding game in the cage with 15 saves and a pair of blocks, going nearly an hour and a half without allowing a goal. Ploch was at Harry’s as well as shut-down defender Jason Masho.

The Dons play against No. 1 Foothill in Irvine on Wednesday.

For the girls team, the Dons return no starters from last year’s team but have a strong core of young talent, including luncheon attendees Leah Gonzales and Mackenzy Fowler.

— SAN MARCOS GIRLS WATER POLO: Despite graduating a star player from last season in Christine Goetsch (now playing for Maryland), the Royals will be a very competitive team this year, according to coach Brian Roth.

“Our goal is to make it to playoffs, but in this town, it’s not so easy,” said Roth, referring to the tremendous amount of talent in the local water polo scene.

Senior goalie Autumn Lovett and 2-meter defender Zoe Kirker will be two of the team’s key players this season.

— UCSB SWIMMING: Longtime Gaucho coach Gregg Wilson spoke about the swimming season, which began on Friday as UCSB dominated UC San Diego at Campus Pool.

Wilson is excited about a stellar freshman class looking to help UCSB’s men’s and women’s teams continue their dominance of the Big West Conference, but he also has plenty of seasoned swimmers who are leading the program.

Wilson introduced women’s team captains Nadia Dwidar and Katy Freeman as well as men’s swimmers Joe Wood and Jeff Sudbury, who was celebrating his 22nd birthday as well as his recent achievement of becoming an American citizen.

—SBCC POTPOURRI: Athletic Director Mike Warren gave updates on other Vaquero squads in action. The men’s soccer team has had a fantastic season, winning its last 11 matches and taking the Western State Conference crown.

The success is largely due to the prodigious play of male Athlete of the Week Mark Knight. The Brit broke the school record for career goals earlier in the week by scoring his 56th. He is the state’s leading scorer for the second consecutive year and is also the assists leader on John Sisterson’s team, which will likely have a bye to begin playoffs.

The women’s team is also in the postseason, and will likely open up on the road.

Sandrine Krul’s Vaquero women’s basketball team is off to a 4-2 start that includes an upset of fourth-ranked Lassen on Sunday, while Morris Hodge’s men are off to a slower start at 2-4 but traditionally start to pick it up much more as the season progresses.

—SCHOLAR ATHLETE: Volleyball player Erik Holliday got a heap of praise from numerous San Marcos coaches and teachers on Monday.

Coach Bradley said that he has an opportunity “to bring great change to this country” and former volleyball coach Jon Lee agreed.

“It’s a rare thing now, but he’s one of those high school kids that shakes your hand and looks you in the eye. He’s legitimately curious and energetic when it comes to sports and the classroom,” said Lee.

“I gave him his lowest grade of the year last year, an A, in volleyball. Every other teacher just felt compelled to give him an A+, even when there wasn’t a numerical coefficient, just to thank him for bringing what he brings to the classroom… Everybody benefits from his presence.”

Holliday has a 4.8 GPA, is the CEO of the “Kids Helping Kids” charity and has a long list of other impressive accomplishments.

He’s also a heck of a public speaker, as he displayed when thanking the Round Table as well as friends and family.